Mclean Hospital
historical photo of lab

History & Progress

For over 200 years, McLean Hospital has been at the forefront of patient care, research, training, and education.

An early image of McLean Hospital
This early image of McLean, then known as The Asylum, back left, shows its original proximity to Massachusetts General Hospital, right foreground, separated only by the Charles River.
Portrait of John McLean
John McLean, a Boston merchant who bequeathed $25,000 and left a residuary legacy of more than $90,000 to The Asylum, named for his honor in 1826.
McLean's professional staff, circa 1891
McLean’s professional staff, circa 1891.
Construction work on the McLean tunnel system
Construction work on the McLean tunnel system at the hospital’s Belmont site began in 1893 and was completed in 1895.
Otto Folin, PhD
Otto Folin, PhD, director of McLean’s Chemical Laboratory from 1900 to 1908. McLean was the first psychiatric hospital to establish basic and clinical laboratories to study the role of biological factors in mental illness.
McLean's first snack bar
McLean’s first snack bar was located in the Centre Building. It moved to the Recreation Building in 1964.
McLean Nurses' Softball Team, circa 1918
The McLean Nurses’ Softball Team, circa 1918. Until the mid 1950s, McLean staff worked, lived and played on campus. Staff could often be found playing softball, golf, tennis or croquet during the warm weather months. During the winter, Upham Bowl was flooded for an ice skating rink.
Frederic Packard, circa 1920
Before motor vehicles became a standard form of transportation, horses were used to get around McLean and the town of Belmont. Pictured here is one of McLean’s former superintendents Frederic Packard, circa 1920. A member of the McLean staff from 1902 until his death in 1958, Packard became superintendent of McLean in 1919. He remained at that post until his retirement in 1929. He remained active at McLean as superintendent emeritus until his death.
John Whitehorn, MD, circa 1938
Research has always been an important part of McLean’s history. Pictured is John Whitehorn, MD, circa 1938. A member of the McLean staff from 1921 until 1938, Whitehorn received the hospital’s first extramural research grant. He was affectionately called “Dr. Mosquito” by the patients because he often drew blood from them to assist in his research.
Nurses in class at McLean, circa 1960
Nurses in class at McLean, circa 1960. McLean established the first psychiatric nursing program in the country in 1882, graduating its first female class in 1886 and its first male class in 1888.